Peter Peter - Founder, UserActive

How to Conduct Great User Interviews

User Interviews

Gathering User Insights

Do you feel like you could do with some insight into your users’ biggest problems, but also their biggest successes using your software? If so, then user interviews are a great way to get deep insights that can actually inform the designs and improvements that you make to your product. In this article, I’m going to discuss how to conduct great user interviews.

Recently, a client of ours asked us if we could redesign the UX of their software, Virtual Summits. Mark, the founder of Virtual Summits Software, said to me, “To inform this process of UX, we’d love it if you could do some user interviews. It would be really great. We could do with good insights, and I think it would really inform your process for design”. I thought it was a brilliant idea.

We jumped straight into this process. I’m going to explain five steps we took that produced a really great process. We got some great insight and it helped us to focus on what improvements to make on the product and it helped us to refine the ICP. In fact, there were a few profiles that we decided not to pursue anymore because the users had the most success with the product for a special kind of ideal customer profile that we decided to hone in on. Thirdly, it helped us to know what not to waste time and energy on. Here’s the process that we used.

1. Planning the logistics

The first step was planning out the logistics. I recommend having somebody who can facilitate this process. This person can reach out to users, ask them for their time, offer them an incentive or a thank you. This could be something like a voucher or a discount because they’re providing valuable insights and voluntarily giving up their time to do so.

Next, you need to set up your systems. Most of that was done with Google Sheets, Google Docs and Google Slides.

2. Defining your segments

Second, you need to define user segments. Mark provided me with another great idea of splitting the interviews into three different types of users. These three user types included:

  • New users
  • Existing users
  • Users that have recently cancelled service or are considering it

This segmentation of users provides further insight into the unique situation and needs of each. In turn, this helps us better provide solutions to their problems and needs.

The booking consisted of using the current email system to set up Zoom calls. We recorded the calls so that we could refer back to them later.

3. Writing your questionnaires

Now, with these three segments, we did three separate questionnaires. It takes time to write great questions because you want to be as clear and concise as possible. By using specific, targeted and open-ended questions, you open yourself up to a greater wealth of knowledge in the answers provided. Using questions that provide scales and different levels of agreement can also help.

Consistency is always key, so keep in mind that it’s beneficial to use a standard question format to be able to compare and contrast answers later on.

4. Conducting your user interviews

It’s important to avoid yes/no questions. You want questions that provide context, that are open-ended. Try your best to enable your users to elaborate and explain. This could be explaining why problems occurred, difficulties they had and/or what they were trying to achieve.

You may find when you start asking questions, is that some users will easily elaborate and give detailed, long answers. With others, they may be more tight-lipped. They might not give you all the information you need, so try to ask them teaser questions that keep the conversation going. Asking for the who, what, where, why or when can help them expand their answer.

Patience is also key. Don’t worry if there is a moment of silence if the user needs to consider their thoughts or experience before answering. You want to encourage them as best you can and not rush the process, making them feel uncomfortable.

A great way to help the user throughout the interview is to share a screen on the call. This will provide visual prompts and guides to help them in answering the questions.

5. Reviewing your findings with Observations and Insights

Finally, review your findings. Spend some time going through all of the interviews. If you recorded the video calls, you may have video files in addition to your questionnaires, and any written notes/transcripts.

From all of this, you will get various observations and insights. Observations may include thoughts, feelings and/or experiences of your users. Insights will consist of key information such as statistics, data or metrics.

Personally, at the end of this process, I was able to go back to Virtual Summits and explain things such as the reason for x percentage of users cancelling, based on the information gathered.

From these calls, we got three different types of insights at different stages of the consumer lifecycle. This gave us three different areas where we can implement great product designs to improve Virtual Summits Software.

Keep in mind that some answers may be unclear, and each answer is a personal opinion or observation. They’re simply providing useful information, and it is up to you as the professional to take action or not based on that information. Consider recurring issues, or issues unique to users at different stages. Perhaps you may even want to refocus on something that is consistently a positive point amongst the users and improve upon that.

Need a hand?

If you need any help with UX/UI design for your software just reach out to us on our Work With Us page to answer a few questions to make sure we’re a good fit for what you need. That way, you can book a free 15 minute, no-obligation consult with us. Additionally, you can book now right here. We design interfaces that are aligned with business objectives in order to drive growth.

We hope that this article has inspired you to do your own user interviews and that they can help you to improve your product, get more users and grow!

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